Monthly Archives: June 2013

June 25

“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.” 
―    Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
   Sandy Banks took some unanticipated flak for her Tuesday column (highlighted in the “Ed News”) that featured praise for a first-year third-grade teacher at a small charter school in south L.A.   Some respondents thought she was dissing veteran educators while others saw the adulation for what it was.  You can read all about this kerfuffle in Banks’ Saturday piece for the L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0622-banks-teachers-20130622,0,3090510.column
   This op-ed from OTHER words describes the failures the author sees in the “reform” efforts of Michelle Rhee in the Washington, D.C. public schools.  He goes on to champion the “Education Declaration to Rebuild America” that the “Ed News” has highlighted on several occasions:  http://otherwords.org/a-new-education-debate/?utm_source=feedly
   Sunday’s L.A. Times published several letters with pro and con arguments about the LAUSD board’s vote (see Friday’s “Ed News” for a link to the original story) to spend $30 million on a pilot program that would provide iPads for students in 47 schools:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0623-sunday-ipads-lausd-20130623,0,6759295.story  NPR station KPCC takes a look at the LAUSD decision to introduce computers into the classroom with this story titled “Tablets in the Classroom Bring Cutting Edge Problems, Too:”  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/06/24/14087/tablets-in-the-classroom-bring-cutting-edge-proble/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+%28KPCC%3A+News%29   This item contains a link to an interesting article that it is based on from InformationWeek titled “iPads in the Classroom: Worth Doing Right” which you can also find here:  http://www.informationweek.com/education/mobility/ipads-in-the-classroom-worth-doing-right/240157153
   The “Ed News” has rarely (if ever) spotlighted the topic of school uniforms.  This piece from NEW AMERICA MEDIA, written by a student at Wilson High School (Long Beach Unified), gives you an interesting perspective on the issue and how infractions of the dress code are handled.  This article includes a short (1:58 minutes) audio of 3 students describing what they were wearing when they were picked up for uniform violations:  http://newamericamedia.org/2013/06/does-school-discipline-over-uniform-infractions-go-too-far.php
   California is in the nascent stages of reevaluating how it trains teachers.  A new report from the California STEM Learning Network (partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) wants to beef up the math and science preparation that teacher candidates will receive.  This story from the SI&A CABINET REPORT explains what the group would like to see included in teacher training programs and offers suggestions to both the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and college and universities.  It includes a link to the full report (36 pages) titled “STEM Can Lead the Way: Rethinking Teacher Preparation and Policy:”  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3863
   Parents are often left out of the education reform discussion.  This article from EdSource describes a successful national program of parenting classes (called “Abriendo Puertas,” “Opening Doors” in Spanish) geared for Latino families that is showing promise in closing the achievement gap among Latino pupils.  This item includes a link to a UC Berkley report (6 pages) evaluating the efficacy of the classes:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/parenting-classes-tailored-for-latino-families-show-promise-in-closing-achievement-gap/33022#.UciOsz75nye
   Stanford released a widely reference report on charter schools in 2009.  The university’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) issued a follow-up survey that looked at even more schools covering more students.  The results at those schools are improving but still mixed according to this story from the “HechingerEd” blog from The HECHINGER REPORT:  http://hechingered.org/content/charter-performance-improving-but-still-varied_6288/  You can find the official press release (3 pages) for the full report here:  http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/UNEMBARGOED%20National%20Charter%20Study%20Press%20Release.pdf  The Executive Summary 28 pages) is here:  http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Executive%20Summary.pdf  If you’l like the entire study (104 pages) you can find it here:  http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf  Valerie Strauss commented on the report and offered some of her own cogent observations in her blog for The Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/25/where-u-s-stands-in-education-internationally-new-report/
   The “Ed News” has looked, on a number of occasions, at how per pupil spending on education in California compares to other states in the union.  How do you think spending in the U.S. compares to 33 other developed nations around the world?  A recent study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found the U.S. number one in per pupil spending.  For these numbers, figures on teacher salaries and other interesting comparisons to other countries check out this story in The San Francisco Chronicle:  http://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/Study-US-education-spending-tops-global-list-4620281.php  The full OECD report (440 pages) titled “Education at a Glance 2013–OECD Indicators” can be found here:  http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2013%20(eng)–FINAL%2020%20June%202013.pdf
   And finally, Valerie Strauss writes about a speech Sec. of Education Arne Duncan delivered today to a convention of American news editors in which he implored them to defend the Common Core State Standards and how to report what they entail.  She goes on to question some of the things Duncan said:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/25/arne-duncan-tells-newspaper-editors-how-to-report-on-common-core/
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar
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June 21

“Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.”  ―    Ambrose Bierce,    The Devil’s Dictionary
   A nonprofit primarily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Carnegie foundations called InBloom has been helping to design education programs for students and in return will be able to mine valuable personal data about those pupils.  If you thought the NSA was snooping on your phone calls and emails wait until you read about this.  The publication DOLLARS & SENSE has the frightening details:  http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2013/0513schneider.html
   The LAUSD board was faced with a number of budget decisions on Tuesday.  One of the biggest, money wise, was their agreement to sign an initial $30 million contract for a pilot program with Apple to provide iPads for all students at 47 schools.  Wednesday’s L.A. Times describes the nuts and bolts of the agreement along with several other actions taken by the board:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0619-lausd-20130619,0,3194906.story  This short article in the L.A. Daily News briefly reviewed the budget deliberations and some of the board discussion and debate:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23488981/lausd-board-passes-6-2-billion-budget?source=rss&utm_source=feedly

   Reactions to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report on teacher training programs continue to come in.  EdSource checks in with this review of the study and some pros and cons regarding its findings:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/critical-report-on-teacher-preparation-programs-sparks-debate/33721#.UcI6Ddfn_IW   Several teacher prep progams in the San Diego area were highly critical of the NCTQ report.  This piece from PBS station KPBS has an extended article and a truncated audio segment (1:33 minutes) describing some of the reactions from California’s second largest city:  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/jun/19/san-diego-teacher-prep-programs-dismiss-new-rating/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kpbs%2Flocal+%28KPBS+News%3A+Local+Headlines%29


   The over emphasis on standardized testing has led to a stress on math and reading to the detriment of the humanities and social sciences according to a new report that says the latter two subjects are just as important for a democratic society and its economic competitiveness as the first two.  The Washington Post has the details about this story:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/report-humanities-social-science-education-needed-along-with-stem/2013/06/18/76076df6-d83e-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html?wprss=rss_national


   You’ve probably read about the student loan debt crisis and some of the solutions for solving it.  Are you aware of the magnitude of the amounts owed and the fact that the numbers have doubled in the last 5 years?  A congressional report released Tuesday was highlighted in this brief item from yesterday’s “Business” section of the L.A. Times discussing this urgent problem:  http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-student-loan-debt-almost-doubles-20130618,0,2109733.story  An editorial in today’s paper urges Congress to reach a compromise on the issue before a July 1st deadline doubles the interest rate on many student loans:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0621-federal-student-loans-20130621,0,7404255.story


   The Republicans, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, passed out of committee their version of a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to replace some of the provisions of NCLB.  Democrats in the Senate moved their bill out of committee previously.  This article from The Washington Post will help you see what the GOP has included and compare general education philosophies with the Democrats:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/republican-led-house-committee-passes-new-federal-education-bill/2013/06/19/fe9b02b2-d8ee-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html?wprss=rss_education


   Do you have any idea how much it costs to educate a student in California from K to 12?  This piece from EdSource invents “Average Alex” to help you discover what the true amount is:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/guess-how-much-we-invest-in-our-students/33802#.UcNsPT75nye
   The “Ed News” has tried to chronicle the major problems facing the public schools of Chicago–a nine day teacher strike, serious budget shortfalls and the largest number of school closures in U.S. history.  This article places the blame for many of those woes directly on the doorstep of Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/17091-chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuels-war-on-teachers-and-children
   Last week the state legislature passed a budget for next year that contained the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula.  The next steps will look at how it will be implemented.  To get that process rolling a one hour briefing was held for interested parties around the state by the director of the California Dept. of Finance, the president of the State Board of Education and other speakers.  EdSource (who co-hosted the program along with New America Media) describes some of the topics covered:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/after-passage-of-school-finance-plan-focus-shifts-to-implementation/33968#.UcSaFD75nyd  You can hear the full (62:29 minutes) audio recording of the briefing here:  http://newamericamedia.org/2013/06/understanding-cas-new-school-funding-formula.php
   The new budget contains $1.25 billion to help implement the new Common Core State Standards.  Districts will have wide latitude on how to spend the funds for 3 main purposes but there will be certain strings attached.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT has the story:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3862
   The LAUSD class of 2016 will be the first students who will need to pass the A-G entrance requirements for the UC and CSU systems in order to graduate.  A report released yesterday from the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) and the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC) found that only 19% of ninth graders who started as the class of 2011 met this new, stringent requirement.  This item, posted on the L.A. Times website yesterday afternoon, provides more information:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-college-prep-20130620,0,2709998.story?track=rss
   And finally, Diane Ravitch’s eponymous blog, which began 14 month ago, reached 5 million page views today.  You can read what she has to say about that milestone here:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/21/today-is-the-day-5-million-page-views-on-this-blog/

 
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

June 18

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”  ―    Will Durant
   The LAUSD and other California districts will be spared lay-off notices this year because of the improving economic situation in the state and the passage of Prop. 30.  However, the rest of the nation has not been so lucky.  The “Ed News” has already highlighted the dire situation in Philadelphia and now comes word from the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES that over 850 teachers and staff at schools slated to be closed or reconstituted in that city received pink slips on Friday:  http://www.suntimes.com/20741706-418/850-teachers-staffers-get-pink-slips-at-closing-turnaround-schools.html
   The Friday edition of the “Ed News” highlighted a new “Education Declaration to Rebuild America” that was signed by a number of prominent leaders in the field.  This op-ed from the CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE strongly endorses the document and gives you an opportunity to add your name to the list of supporters  [Ed. note:  The Chief Commissar of Current Events proudly added his name]:  http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130613/fighting-for-our-classrooms-and-for-the-human-beings-inside-them?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fighting-for-our-classrooms-and-for-the-human-beings-inside-them
   The California legislature passed Gov. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as part of the state budget bill on Friday.  A number of school districts around the state with small numbers of low-income and/or English learners are forming a coalition to try to make changes to the law that will allow their “invisible students” to enjoy the extra funding that schools with high numbers of “needy students” will be getting.  A front-page story in yesterday’s L.A. Times sorts all this out for you with specific examples of the pupils mentioned and impacted districts:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-finance-20130617,0,7095145.story
   You’ve probably read about how large companies in the U.S. make all kinds of effort to avoid paying taxes.  Did you ever wonder if that has any impact on education funding?  This op-ed from Nation of Change looks at how corporate state tax avoidance affects public school finances:  http://www.nationofchange.org/why-our-schools-are-broke-five-years-corporate-state-tax-avoidance-1371477824
    An extended editorial in yesterday’s L.A. Times asks the critical question “Was Adopting Common Core A Mistake?”  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-race-to-the-top-common-core-curriculum-20130617,0,7818933.story
   Talk about taking using test scores to evaluate teachers to the extreme, you must check out why Florida just passed a law that states educators cannot be evaluated using test scores of students they never taught.  Valerie Strauss is very distressed by what is passing for school “reform” in the Sunshine State:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/16/new-florida-law-teachers-cant-be-evaluated-on-students-they-dont-have/
   The “debate” over the “parent trigger” between Ben Austin, founder of the Parent Revolution group, and Diane Ravitch is heating up.  Ravitch comments on her blog on the organization’s latest effort to respond to her comments last week (covered by the “Ed News”):  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/17/parent-revolution-creates-a-truth-site-to-debunk-me/   You can read Parent Revolution’s piece about her, part of their new series titled “Truth in Education Reform” here:  http://truthinedreform.org/   As they say on television–STAY TUNED!
   The title (on the website) of Sandy Banks’ column in today’s L.A. Times pretty much tells it all “Here’s A Teacher I’d Want for My Children.”  It features a first-year teacher in a third-grade class in a charter school in south L.A.:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0618-banks-teacher-20130618,0,6501860,full.column
   Valerie Strauss turns her blog over to the editors of Rethinking Education who take a detailed (critical) look at the Common Core State Standards which, they claim in their piece, are not really “state” standards:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/18/the-common-cores-fundamental-trouble/
   WOW!  This should really stir things up.  The long anticipated ratings of teacher training programs around the country are out.  California came out smelling like a skunk!  The state’s teacher education schools were among the lowest rated with UCLA and LMU noted as “hardly worth attending.”  The metrics were developed by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and were published by U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT.  Only 4 schools received the group’s highest 4-star rating.  An article in today’s L.A. Times features the report:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0618-teacher-training-20130618,0,5100253.story  THE WASHINGTON POST covered the same story this way:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/university-programs-that-train-us-teachers-get-mediocre-marks-in-first-ever-ratings/2013/06/17/ab99d64a-d75b-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html  Thanks to Jill Asbjornsen for passing along this link to the full report (112 pages) titled “Teacher Prep Review:”  http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Prep_Review_2013_Report-tsv201361891546  Reactions to the report were swift and not complimentary.  Linda Darling-Hammond, whose book Powerful Teacher Education about exemplary teacher training programs was an ALOED book club selection a year-and-a-half ago, used Valerie Strauss’ column to pen a scathing critique titled “Why the NCTQ Teacher Prep Ratings are Nonsense:”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/18/why-the-nctq-teacher-prep-ratings-are-nonsense/   On her blog, Diane Ravitch reviewed the NCTQ report and said IT deserves an “F:”  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/18/that-nctq-report-on-teacher-education-f/
   The LAUSD is flush with cash for the first time in almost half a decade.  Today the district’s board takes up a number of proposals about how to spend this windfall.  An editorial in today’s L.A. Times suggests several ideas that should be funded and urges the board not to be foolish with its resources:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-lausd-budget-20130618,0,7710361.story
   The L.A. Daily News has 2 articles about the LAUSD.  The first deals with the district’s decision to shift hundreds of students in the fall from special-education centers to traditional schools in order to comply with federal and state mandates and a court consent decree:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23464708/more-special-ed-kids-head-traditional-schools   The second is a feature on newest LAUSD board member Monica Ratliff who will take her seat, representing schools in the east San Fernando Valley, on July 2.  She recently went through a 3-day orientation at the district’s downtown headquarters and reports on her goals for her new position:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23480273/new-lausd-board-member-monica-ratliff-seeks-end?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   And finally, newly reelected LAUSD board member, Steve Zimmer, is introducing a resolution at the board’s meeting today to make changes to the “parent trigger” law.  NPR station KPCC has the details:  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/06/17/14022/la-unified-school-board-member-wants-changes-to-ca/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+%28KPCC%3A+News%29
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

June14

“Liberty without Learning is always in peril and Learning
without Liberty is always in vain.”

    John F. Kennedy

   The man who came up with the idea for Gov. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), Michael Kirst, looks back at how the idea was developed and what lies ahead as the legislature prepares to pass it.  EdSource has the profile:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/michael-kirst-father-of-new-school-funding-formula-looks-back-and-at-the-work-ahead/33408#.UbleOPmG12u  An editorial in Wednesday’s L.A. Times agrees with the compromises regarding Brown’s funding proposals and believes it might end up being his greatest “legacy” as governor:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-school-funding-california-budget-20130612,0,5838178.story   The state legislature is scheduled to vote on the LCFF today (SB 91).  When that is accomplished, Gov. Brown will certainly sign the bill and it will become law.  Who gets to work out the details of how it is implemented and who is responsible for monitoring it on an on-going basis?  That falls to the State Board of Education.  This story from EdSource discusses how all of this will play out over the next several years:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/state-board-handed-job-of-defining-rules-of-new-funding-system/33603#.UbtMYPb5nye   The Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” revisits the LCFF describing the compromise reached on Tuesday as “momentous” and the whole concept “a dramatic change in educational funding in California.”  This item offers  a quick primer on how the new funding will work and offers some challenges that lie ahead:  http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=ea2ff27a9a&e=f7d7cb8d5d
   Valerie Strauss looks at a new report that finds that a number of states’ math graduation requirements DO NOT align with the Common Core State Standards.  You’ll have to read her blog to find out how California fared:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/12/study-math-requirements-not-aligned-with-common-core-in-many-states/
   State education officials are going to tackle the problem of student absenteeism head-on.  Dept. of Education leaders convened a group of experts across many state agencies to define exactly what the problem is and develop some strategies to deal with it.  This story from EdSource details what they’ve been working on:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/state-agencies-aim-to-collaborate-to-fight-chronic-absenteeism/32861#.UboQzvb5nyd
   The LAUSD school board will be picking a new president on July 2 as Monica Garcia steps down after serving in the position for 6 years.  Dr. Richard Vladovic is considered the best bet for the job according to this piece from the L.A. SCHOOL REPORT:  http://laschoolreport.com/vladovic-the-frontrunner-for-board-president/
   The U.S. Senate Education Committee passed the Democratic version of the renewal bill for NCLB.  EDUCATION WEEK discusses what’s contained in the legislation:   http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/06/senate_committee_passes_democr.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CampaignK-12+(Education+Week+Blog%3A+Politics+K-12)  This piece contains a link to an excellent chart comparing the competing bills that aim to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  You can also access it here:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/06/nclb_bills_a_side-by-side_comp.html
   The Fordham Institute recently rated the new national Next General Science Standards (NGSS) quite a bit lower than the current curriculum already in place in California.  This item includes links to a one-page state-by-state “report card,” the full Fordham report (67 pages) and to the current California science standards:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3851
   A story posted on the L.A. Times website yesterday evening (but not appearing in the paper today) comments on LAUSD Supt. Deasy approving of two outside reports from the group Educators4Excellence (heavily funded by the Gates and Walton foundations) regarding the recruiting and retention of high quality teachers.  Newest member of the board, Monica Ratliff, also liked what they contained:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-deasy-ratliff-applaud-report-20130613,0,7964369.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29  You can read the first full report (36 pages) titled “Building for the Future:  Attracting and Retaining Great Teachers in Hard-to-Staff Schools” here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/147628923/Building-for-the-Future-Attracting-and-Retaining-Great-Teachers-in-Hard-to-Staff-Schools  The second full report (30 pages) titled “STEP: Supporting Teachers as Empowered Professionals” is here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/147633890/STEP-Supporting-Teachers-as-Empowered-Professionals
   Valerie Strauss looks at “How Test Scores Can Be Deceiving” by focusing on a report that reviews 20 years of an education reform law in Massachusetts:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/13/how-test-scores-can-be-deceiving/
   And finally, Diane Ravitch continues her strong misgivings regarding the “parent trigger” law by reprinting, on her blog today, the resolution offered to the LAUSD board by member Steve Zimmer to make petition campaigns more transparent and open to discussion prior to schools be taken over or turned into charters:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/14/steve-zimmer-proposes-safety-lock-for-parent-trigger/  A short time later she added this posting from “an educator in L.A.” who explained why this change is necessary:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/14/the-unfairness-of-the-parent-trigger/
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

June 7

UPCOMING PROGRAM NOTE:  Mark your calendar and begin reading the next title for the ALOED book club.  Date:  Wednesday, July 17th.  Time: 6 p.m.  Book:  Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina.  For all the details and to RSVP:  http://alumni.oxy.edu/s/956/index.aspx?sid=956&pgid=1951&gid=1&cid=4538&ecid=4538&post_id=0&authkey=ibPCEUnNRQlwH%2fEXrXjAHk1ytgmfAyb01PMcbDgN2Q8KGuY2V%2b82vw%3d%3d
 “It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”
―    James Baldwin
   No Child Left Behind has been up for Congressional reauthorization for the past 6 years.  This week two bills were introduced in the Senate to accomplish this, one by a Democrat and one by a Republican.  Needless to say, they take very different approaches to how the federal government should deal with education according to this story in The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/education/harkin-schools-legislation.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&
   The LAUSD board is slated to discuss and adopt a budget for the 2013-14 school year in two weeks.  A meeting was held Tuesday to give stakeholders an opportunity to make their wishes heard in light of the increased funding for schools as a result of the voter passage of Prop. 30 in November.  The L.A. Daily News describes some of the things people wanted the money to be spent on:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23389822/lausd-board-hears-pleas-boost-campus-hiring-academic?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   Are some online classes taught by for-profit companies leading to the privatization of the UC, CSU and Community College systems in California?  This article from the East Bay Express highlights SB 520 in the state legislature that might do just that:  http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/privatizing-uc-instruction/Content?oid=3569100&utm_source=feedly  How do you feel about expanding online offerings at the state’s colleges and universities?  A newly released USC Dornsife/Times Poll of 1,500 registered California voters in yesterday’s L.A. Times found that 59% were in favor of increasing the number of courses offered.  Those figures and others related to the topic can be perused here:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-poll-higher-education-20130606,0,1579824.story
   The chancellor of the Washington, D.C., Public Schools (DCPS) is not convinced that a series of education reforms recommended for her schools will actually be helpful for students.  The Washington Post lays out the details of the changes that are being considered:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/henderson-not-convinced-that-dc-education-plan-will-help-schools/2013/06/04/820a0adc-cd44-11e2-8f6b-67f40e176f03_story.html?wprss=rss_education
   Gov. Brown has his Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for radically changing how schools are funded in California (The “Ed News” has covered this issue extensively).  Now Colorado has come up with a unique way to fund its schools as described by this story from the SI&A CABINET REPORT:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3841
   San Diego’s NPR station KPBS  reports that the San Diego Unified School District was one of only 6 large urban districts in the nation that was able to reduce the achievement gap between its Anglo and African-American students on AP test results:  This item highlights a study from the Broad Foundation that includes the data this brief story covers  You can read the piece and/or listen to the segment (1:12 minutes) here:  http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/jun/05/san-diego-schools-narrow-black-white-gap-ap-tests/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kpbs%2Flocal+%28KPBS+News%3A+Local+Headlines%29
   Valerie Strauss looks at the latest  statistics on high school graduation rates among the 50 largest school districts in the nation.  The good news–the numbers are increasing especially among minority students.  The bad news–check out where the LAUSD placed (hint: it wasn’t last):  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/06/u-s-high-school-graduation-rate-sees-big-minority-gains-analysis/
   Last month the “Ed News” highlighted the controversy over the granting of Title I anti-poverty funds to the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES).  Now the L.A. Daily News reports that 4 more LAUSD campuses have had their funding restored after a re-audit of the student applications:  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23398597/4-more-lausd-schools-qualify-federal-anti-poverty?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   Even more financial woes for the monetarily challenged LAUSD.  Yesterday’s L.A. Times describes how the district is offering $17 million to a second group of students who were caught up in the teacher abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lausd-miramonte-victims-20130605,0,7528722.story
   The “Ed News” recently highlighted a post from Valerie Strauss in which she reprinted a blog that argued against the idea of ability grouping for students.  Strauss followed up on that by reprinting another blog that rebuts that argument.  You can read this one here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/07/why-grouping-students-by-ability-makes-sense/
   And finally, Ben Austin, Executive director of the group Parent Revolution, the one leading the charge on the use of the “parent trigger” to take over public schools wrote an “open letter to Dr. Diane Ravitch” for the Huffington Post.  In it, he excoriated her for criticizing his group’s action in removing the principal at Weigand Avenue Elementary School (LAUSD):  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-austin/a-kids-first-dialogue-ope_b_3393062.html  Ravitch was quick to respond to his missive:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/07/my-reply-to-ben-austins-open-letter-to-me/
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

June 4

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”

―    Dalai Lama XIV

 The “Ed News” has been diligently chronicling the move to close over 50 schools in Chicago.  This article details what’s been happening as the Washington, D.C., Public Schools (DCPS) moves to close 15 campuses and how many critics believe the plan smacks of racism:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/16672-racist-school-closings-in-washington-dc
   The financial woes for the LAUSD continue!  The beleaguered district’s insurance company sued on Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court to avoid having to pay the costs of the settlement the district reached with 58 victims of the alleged abuse case at Miramonte Elementary School.  The cost could ultimately reach $30 million.  Saturday’s L.A. Times sorts out all the details:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0601-miramonte-settle-20130601,0,2586901.story
   Supposed education “champion” and former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, has nothing but “disdain” for public schools proclaims Valerie Strauss in this scathing entry on her blog about the possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/31/jeb-bushs-disdain-for-public-education/
   Philosopher, author, pundit and MIT professor Noam Chomsky comments on the history of education in this country and where he thinks it’s headed in this interview:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/16651-noam-chomsky-on-democracy-and-education-in-the-21st-century-and-beyond
   In a front page feature article in Sunday’s L.A. Times the Common Core State Standards are described in layman’s terms and some of the pros and cons are raised.  Some lessons and activities that are being tried out in the Santa Ana Unified School District are shared:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-schools-standards-20130602,0,1589134,full.story
    An editorial in the same paper revisits the “parent trigger” law and finds some more deficiencies in the way it it written.  The removal of a popular principal at Weigand Avenue Elementary school (which the “Ed News” highlighted last week) is used as an example of what needs fixing:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trigger-20130602,0,1845434.story  21 of 22 teachers at Weigand plan to leave the school in protest over how the principal was treated.  They believe a more open, transparent approach to “parent trigger” campaigns would be a way to provide information to people prior to their signing petitions:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-parent-

trigger-20130531,0,7501095.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)  An op-ed in yesterday’s paper takes a different view of how the “parent trigger” was utilized at Weigand Ave by claiming that the removal of the principal shows that parents want change at their schools quickly:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-newton-parent-trigger-weigand-20130603,0,7865288.column
   A front page story in yesterday’s Times describes a move that’s afoot to reform how school bond issue campaigns are handled.  The use of bond underwriters and the lack of competitive bids are two of the main items being looked at by the state legislature:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bond-donations-20130603,0,3479332,full.story
    In his column in the same paper George Skelton predicts that Gov. Brown is about to gain a “big victory” for his Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for schools (an issue extensively covered by the “Ed News”).  Skelton notes, however, that the win was subject to some important changes by member of the legislature:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-schools-20130603,0,2078852,full.column  EdSource is also predicting a big win for Gov. Brown’s funding plan.  This item provides a short history of it, how it works and some of the groups who have signed on in support (including Michelle Rhee’s organization):  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/governor-brown-eyes-yet-another-education-victory/32907#.Ua5StmT5nye
   Three high school teams from LAUSD were among 20 campuses from around the country that will compete in the Aspen Challenge  in Colorado at the end of this month.  Their task is to find creative solutions to some of society’s most intractable problems.  This piece from yesterday’s Times highlights what each of the local schools has developed:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-aspen-challenge-20130603,0,174789.story
   The LAUSD voted last month to become the first district in the state to end suspensions for “wilful defiance” and move away from “zero tolerance” policies of the past regarding student behavior.  In there place are suggested programs like “restorative justice” based on a book titled “Discipline That Restores, Strategies to Create Respect, Cooperation and Responsibility in the Classroom.”  All these ideas and programs are the subject of this article from HealthyCal and will bring you up to speed on any of these concepts that you may not be fully aware of:  http://www.healthycal.org/archives/12127
   Two bills were introduced in Congress at the end of May with vastly different ideas of how the federal government should be involved in the preparation of teachers in the future.  Both are described by this story from EDUCATION WEEK:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2013/05/Differing_viewpoints_on_teacher_prep.html
   And finally, the LAUSD has a radically different teacher evaluation system that is scheduled to roll out next year.  Many districts around the state and the country are watching intently to see how it works.  This extended piece from the Center for Investigative Reporting explains how it came into being and how it will work:  http://cironline.org/reports/state-watches-la-unified-tests-new-ways-grade-teachers-4625
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar

May 31

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”  ―    E.M. Forster
   The California Assembly sent to the Senate, on a 51-12 vote, AB 375 that would make it easier for districts to discipline and fire teachers for illegal behavior.  THE SACRAMENTO BEE describes the legislation:  http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/29/5456816/assembly-approves-bill-to-ease.html
   The HECHINGER REPORT highlights a study from the U.S. Dept. of Education that found that 60% of public schools in the U.S. qualify as “high-poverty” campuses.  The numbers came from a report produced by the National Center for Educational Statistics released last week titled “The Condition of Education 2013.”  This brief article has a link to the full report (241 pages):  http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/the-number-of-high-poverty-schools-increases-by-about-60-percent_161/
   Know what a MOOC is?  That’s a “massive open online course” and the number of schools offering them took a huge jump yesterday when Coursera, a for-profit company from Silicon Valley, signed an agreement with 10 large public university systems to offer the classes.  The San Jose Mercury News explains how MOOCs work and what this pact means for higher education:  http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_23347894/mountain-views-coursera-strikes-huge-online-education-deal?source=rss&utm_source=feedly
   Who should administer injections to students at schools in California?  That was the issue before the State Supreme Court Wednesday.  The State Nurses Association would like that to be the exclusive domain of its members.  This story from the L.A. Times reviews the cogent points in the case and records some of the comments made by the justices during oral arguments:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-diabetic-students-20130530,0,3987454.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly
   Is the goal of some “reformers” to end public education?  The answer to that is “yes” according to this commentary from the Education Opportunity NETWORK and what schools need, it argues, is an “Education Spring.”  It uses the recent elections of Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff to the LAUSD school board as examples of the kinds of things that need to occur:  http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/why-america-needs-an-education-spring/
   The Common Core State Standards have elicited both strong support and opposition.  The Washington Post reports that the tea party is now getting in on the debate.  You can probably guess what their position is.  You can read about the group’s late entry into the discussion here and what states are feeling the heat:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tea-party-groups-rallying-against-common-core-education-overhaul/2013/05/30/64faab62-c917-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html?wprss=rss_national&utm_source=feedly    Valerie Strauss comments on the above article in her blog and warns about being careful regarding what critics are saying about the Common Core and why they are taking the positions they do:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/31/why-extreme-common-core-rhetoric-is-a-problem/  Diane Ravitch got in on the discussion with her blog describing how several national education organizations representing superintendents, principals and school boards offered support for the Common Core with some caveats about taking it a little slower in order to get it right:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/31/leading-national-groups-support-common-core-but-insist-on-better-implementation/   Opposition to Common Core is much more muted here in California.  The SI&A CABINET REPORT describes how the legislature has cleared the way for statewide student testing based on Common Core to begin in the spring of 2015:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3835
   The “Battle over Crenshaw High” continues between the school and community vs. Supt. John Deasy.  The latter decided to reconstitute the campus after years of low test scores and high drop out rates.  The former wanted more time to implement some reform plans.  The superintendent’s plan prevailed and after all teachers and staff were required to reapply for their positions over 50% of the educators were not invited back.  [Ed. note:  When the Chief Commissar’s school, Huntington Park High, went through a similar trauma after he retired, 70% of teachers were not rehired.]  Today’s L.A. Times describes this latest development:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0531-crenshaw-high-20130531,0,4309222.story
   The role of the police on California K-12 campuses would be limited by a bill that passed the State Assembly on Wednesday.  AB 549 would, in addition, clarify the part to be played by counselors, administrators and teachers in each school’s safety plan.  EdSource sorts out all the details about this new legislation:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/bill-would-require-school-districts-to-clarify-the-role-of-campus-police/32817#.UajSgWT5nyd
   A new report, highlighted by NPR station KPCC, demonstrates how a parents’ immigrant status impacts a child’s education and why this is the case.  It is based on research from UC Irvine and Penn State University:  http://www.scpr.org/blogs/multiamerican/2013/05/30/13829/how-parents-immigration-status-affects-their-child/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+(KPCC%3A+News)
   And finally, the Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” revisits the concept of “community schools” and looks at the history of the idea, what it entails and where it’s headed in the future:  http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=3d10b5f3f1&e=f7d7cb8d5d
Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar